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I can not really remember the first time I saw John Wayne, but I do know this:

 

The movie that made me a bona-fide fan was his portrayal of Captain Nathan Brittles in John Ford's second film of his celevrated calvary trilogy, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.

 

Definitely the best actor of 1949, especially when compared to his performance in Sands of Iwo Jima and the eventual Academy Award Best Actor Winner that year, Broderick Crawford in All the Kings Men.

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*What film of his made you into a fan*

 

I was hooked the moment the camera dollied in on the face of Ringo in *Stagecoach*. By far one of the greatest introductions of a character in classic film.

 

I came to appreciate the depth of Wayne's acting, like Rey, in *Yellow Ribbon*, *The Searchers* and especially, *The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance*.

 

Many people say Wayne was just playing himself and there are movies, especially some of his films later in his career, where he did. But it bears repeating, that he left behind a wonderful legacy of films and in many of them, it is his performance that makes those films so memorable. From westerns like *Rio Bravo* to action films like *They Were Expendable* to romances like *The Quiet Man* when Wayne was paired with a good director (and not just Ford), it's the characters he created that we remember.

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I think the first Wayne movie I saw was "Chisum" and I was at the theater with my father. I must have been 12 or so but I loved it. He was tough. He was in charge. There was action. What is not to like at that age?

 

I knew my father liked him so I thought I needed to pay attention. We watched others but when I found his Ford movies that is when I thought there was something more than just what I was watching being a cowboy movie. He was a presence and he was good.

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I first really started appreciating John Wayne in *The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance*,

but the reverential genuflection started about the time I saw The Searchers. (It's that moment

when he chokes up and refuses to voice his memories.)

 

Then, with *The Alamo*, because I am from Texas, the whole prideful Texas Republic Spirit

sprang up because I live very close to the San Jacinto Monument where Santa Ana was defeated, and I am a Texas History buff.

 

Plus I worked near where *The HellFighters* was filmed and heard many tall tales there.

 

But, I love Ben Johnson, and I also had a great fondness for *The Undefeated* because

I had a major crush on Roman Gabriel (still do), # 18, LA RAMS, so I have revisited

that film more than reasonably necessary. :)

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The *Quiet Man* is also one of my favorite films, and helped entrench my interests in all things Wayne. When paired with Maureen O'Hara, his tenderness, rambunctious nature, and love for the red-headed "Queen of Technicolor" always made this sassy Texas gal perk up! They were also great friends in their private lives as Wayne had great respect for O'Hara's real-life hubby, Charlie Blair, and would visit them at their Caribbean home.

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My first Wayne film was *Fort Apache*, and I just loved how he tried to stand up to Henry Fonda and also tried to defend the Apache ... I think I became a great fan of his after watching *The Searchers*, which I contend is among the greatest American films ever made.

I did not like some of his older stuff; I loved virtually everything he did with John Ford.

He was TREMENDOUS in his final film, *The Shootist*, and how could you not like him in *The Cowboys*?

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*It's easy enough to admire him or at least like him in the Westerns, but that movie took it one step beyond.*

 

And I would counter with it was all the work in those Westerns and with Ford (and a couple of other directors) that made him so good in *Quiet Man*.

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My earliest memories of John Wayne are from the late 1940's. I was about 7 or 8 and I remember "Red River" the thing that stuck was the stampede and his fight with Clift. "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" and "3 Godfathers". We lived in Knoxville,Tn and I remember my father taking me to see those two.. I think the fact they were in color also stuck in my memory..I've been a fan since....And "Angel and the Badman" and "Tall in the Saddle" were Saturday movie favorites then....

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on Feb 23, 2010 10:35 PM

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> {quote:title=lzcutter wrote:}{quote}

> And I would counter with it was all the work in those Westerns and with Ford (and a couple of other directors) that made him so good in *Quiet Man*.

 

Why does the earlier statement need to be countered when I'm simply expressing a matter of personal taste? ;)

 

I'm not saying he was better in one movie than in the others. It just happened that the blend of qualities he expressed in The Quiet Man were the combination that really made his appeal get through to me. But like I said, it is a matter of personal taste. I think all of those qualities were there all along, perhaps expressed a little differently or maybe in a less overt way.

 

In a more objective viewpoint I might say he was almost universally reliable, even if many critics at the time either didn't see the talent behind the performances or just didn't appreciate them. But, when I started watching Wayne movies, I was at a relative disadvantage because my view had been partly colored by those who were most dismissive about him over the years.

 

Those dismissive views of Wayne just won't wash with him any more, that probably goes without saying.

 

But I think seeing a more tender/romantic side of him helped me to appreciate him better as a human being, rather than just a "tough guy" icon.

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For me, it was probably Rio Bravo, which I saw on television. I had seen The Alamo in the early 60s, when it was shown at a nearby school on a Saturday afternoon, but there was so much going on in that film that it was hard for a kid my age to single out one actor.

 

On the other hand, the first time I ever saw John Wayne doing _anything_ was in "I Love Lucy," and that episode still cracks me up.

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In the 60's when I was just a youngster, John Wayne was like a tv star, so many of his movies were on the tube; afternoons, at late night, on weekends, you couldn't miss him if you tried. And of course he was still a very active film star. I can't begin to remember what movie I saw first. The images and characters sort of blurred together. But I definitely was a fan then and now. Today I look at his whole career and some films are "just John Wayne being John Wayne" and others where he gets a little more opportunity to show a more complex character; when he can he usually does well. I believe the Duke was a better actor than many give him credit for. He could be good at comedy like Donovan's Reef and McLintock, wish he had done a few more like that. I actually think my favorite John Wayne film is She Wore A Yellow Ribbon. And The Shootist was a terrific curtain call for a great career.

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> {quote:title=SueSueApplegate wrote:}{quote}

> Well, it's obvious Wayne got so much better with age. And Howard Hawks and John Ford pulled him along and out of the mold....*The Shootist* never fails to make me cry--a tour de force.

 

Yes, I would certainly agree with you there. He was very lucky to have worked with two such talented directors. I think it's been said many times already that they helped quite a bit in shaping the Wayne "image".

 

Edited to add: I also really hope that whomever owns the rights to The Quiet Man will restore it and re-issue it on DVD/blu-ray. It doesn't look like much care went into the video transfers that are currently in circulation.

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Well, I'm a single mom, and I am just thankful to have my DVD to watch. I'm really not so picky about quality, etc. And I can't afford the Blue Ray yet. But if I win the lotto, I could get real picky, real quick, pilgrim...

 

FYI, One of my best friends loves *The Quiet Man* so much that one of her daughters is named Marikate.

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> {quote:title=SueSueApplegate wrote:}{quote}

> Well, I'm a single mom, and I am just thankful to have my DVD to watch. I'm really not so picky about quality, etc. And I can't afford the Blue Ray yet. But if I win the lotto, I could get real picky, real quick, pilgrim...

 

Having a classic film released on blu-ray oftentimes also helps those who get it on DVD, because the video transfer is held to a much higher standard, and ultimately it is the same transfer that is used for the DVDs as well as the blu-rays.

 

> FYI, One of my best friends loves *The Quiet Man* so much that one of her daughters is named Marikate.

 

That is really awesome! I wouldn't have minded at all if my mom had named me Mary Kate. :D

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Like mrroberts, I've seen The Duke on TV as long as I can remember. But at about eight years old, I watched THE SEARCHERS. Knew, even at that age, I'd seen something special. A black and white set, interrupted by commercials. Didn't matter. The greatness in this epic, his best film, shines right through. Also during the first decade of my life, I saw THE HORSE SOLDIERS, STAGECOACH, HONDO, BACK TO BATAAN. in 1976, I sat in a theatre and cried over what everyone knew would be his last appearance. The great American movie star, if not the best actor, there was never a time I was not a fan.

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Redriver, I have to steal your wonderful line because "there was never a time I was not a fan," too.

His sense of timing, his comedic abilities, and his recognition of other actors in a scene were but a few of his enjoyable abilities on the screen.

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I think I will always be of two minds about John Wayne. I like The Searchers, The High and the Mighty, The Alamo, and The Sands of Iwo Jima but have problems with others. That line "Never apologize; it's a sign of weakness" is one of the all-time worst; surpassed only by "Love means never having to say you're sorry", and so many people seem to believe them. Real courage means taking responsibility for your mistakes, admitting you are wrong, acknowledging that you have wronged others, and is genuinely remorseful. I admire that he appreciated what opportunities he had as an American, but not that he seemed to think that his was the only right way. As to being a romantic hero: Maureen O'Hara and he are considered a real romantic team but in all of their movies but The Quiet Man they are a separated or divorced couple who can't live with or without each other. Even in that one there is a lot of conflict and he resorts to violence to get things his way. While there is much to admire in the man and his persona, especially in the way he faced his death and left a medical legacy, there is also a lot I don't think should be emulated.

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*While there is much to admire in the man and his persona, especially in the way he faced his death and left a medical legacy, there is also a lot I don't think should be emulated.*

 

I never agreed with his politics but that never hindered my respect and admiration for him as an actor.

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